Spencer Johnsen spins no-hitter as Ocean View clinches share of Golden West League crown
Spencer Johnsen has blossomed into a lock-down pitcher this year, and he saved his best for the season’s most vital assignment.
The junior left-hander tossed Ocean View’s second no-hitter of the campaign, shutting down Segerstrom’s potent attack in a 2-0 victory that gave the Seahawks a share of the Golden West League championship, their third in a row and 18th baseball league title in school history.
Johnsen used a lively fastball and dizzying slider to keep the Jaguars off balance, striking out six and allowing just three base runners — two on walks, the third on a seventh-inning error — in what he said was the best game he’s ever thrown.
He also delivered two of Ocean View’s three hits and scored the first run after a first-inning double to deep left as the Seahawks (19-8, 9-1 in the Golden West League) put behind them Tuesday’s 9-6 road loss in the first meeting, a result with which Segerstrom (15-12-1, 9-1) clinched a share of its first Golden West League title in four years.
He was mobbed by teammates at the mound upon striking out pinch-hitter Nicolas Valdez for the final out and doused with a bucket of water when the team gathered for its postgame chat just beyond first base.
“He put a ton of work in during the offseason, and it’s been so fun to watch him progressively get better each and every week,” said Ocean View head coach Tanner VanMaanen, who Monday morning will learn his team’s foe for the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. “You saw him on the bump throw a no-hitter today — unbelievable — but he does it with his bat, too. Everything he’s worked for has come to fruition for him, so I’m super-excited.
“I couldn’t be more proud for the kid, because he was this tiny, skinny thing. We challenged him to get in the weight room, and he did, and he’s turned in a phenomenal season.”
Senior right-hander Owen Sideris threw a no-hitter in a 10-0 rout of last-place Godinez on March 29. This one was more special, given the occasion, and it certainly meant a lot to Johnsen, who went into the seventh needing no reminder of what was within reach.
“You can’t not think about it,” he said. “It’s hard not to think about it. It was tough [in the last inning]. You have to just think about the game. It’s not about the no-hitter, it’s just about winning the game.”
Completing it, and snaring part of the crown, was “amazing,” said Johnsen, who improved to 7-2 with a 1.45 earned-run average. “I’m so thankful. It’s the best opportunity ever.”
Ocean View got the runs it needed with some small ball and a few costly Segerstrom miscues, and the Seahawks might have had more but left four runners in scoring position. The first run was unearned, the second possible because of successive wild pitches.
Johnsen’s high-arching blast to deep left eluded the Jaguars’ Bryan Cortez — he raced to second as it bounced off the wall — with one out in the bottom of the first. Jaguars starter Kenny Gallardo’s wild pitch got him to third with two out, and he came home on an error, as third baseman Zander Bretza threw short to first on Seth Churchwell’s grounder.
The Seahawks made it 2-0 in the third. Quentin Custodio singled to right with one out, reached third on two Gallardo wild pitches, then came home on Churchwell’s sacrifice-fly — from the first pitch by reliever Adrian Villegas, who then plunked Evyn Lewis.
That was mostly that for Ocean View’s attack: Villegas retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, surrendering just a lead-off single to Johnsen in the fifth.
Johnsen was perfect until walking Villegas with one out in the fourth. Bretza walked in the sixth after fouling off eight pitches in a 12-pitch at-bat. Second baseman Devon Minney bobbled Bruno Bañuelos’ grounder to start the seventh. Only Villegas reached second.
“The kid pitched great. He mixed it up well,” said Segerstrom head coach Erasmo Ramirez, whose team is headed to the Division 4 playoffs. “Our guys were coming back, saying his ball was moving all over the place. We were thinking of a plan, trying to hit the ball hard the other way, but he never gave us an inch.”
VanMaanen first saw a flash of something special in Johnsen in last year’s Division 2 second-round loss at La Verne Bonita, a 3-0 decision.
“He went and pitched his butt off ...,” VanMaanen said. “He was in a playoff game on the road as a sophomore, and it built character, right? He wanted to win that game for all those seniors last year, but now is his time. Now is his moment to shine, where he’s the guy everybody is looking to to do some amazing things.”
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